Mick Eugene Fanning has once again been engraved upon the world championship trophy, a simple inscription which tells nothing of blood, sweat, tears (and judging) which went into the win.
The final day of the Pipe Masters saw Kelly Slater dominate a solid Pipeline lineup, pushing aside opponents in frantic dash for the finish line, however, the world title went to an indefatigable Australian who took his chances when they came while exhibiting the patience and consistency which have characterised his year.
Fanning had to make the semi-finals to secure the title, facing up against CJ Hobgood and Yadin Nicol. In both heats he relied on last minute bombs to surpass his opponent, but the quality of his barrel riding cold not be denied.
With moments to spare in the title-deciding heat against Yadin Nicol, he required a 9+ score to win. A second reef set emerged from the depths, he took off, faded, and jammed into a solid tube which spat him out over the sandbank. As he strolled up the beach, mobbed by fans and paparazzi, the result was not yet certain, then a 9.7 was called, prompting a roar from the beach, and tears of relief from the victor. Mick's score was controversial, considering criticality of Nicol's rides, but we're not judges, and don't want to be either.
"The world title is something that takes a whole year, but sometimes it can feel like it boils down to the final day and the final heats,” Fanning said. “I’m sure I gave my wife Karissa and my mum enough stress today to last a lifetime. I was never worried myself now that I think of it. I knew what I needed to do and if the opportunity came, I knew I could do it. That opportunity came in both heats today. It’s an incredible feeling. I’ve been having fun all year and to clinch on a day like this at Pipeline makes it that much more special.”
“Today was one of the most special days in my life, It’s a day I have dreamed about since I was a little kid – big, perfect, west-angled Pipeline and a showdown at the Pipe Masters. If I had stepped away from the sport five years ago, I wouldn’t have had today. I want more days like this so I’m definitely back next year." Kelly Slater
The man in pursuit, Kelly Slater, was on unstoppable form throughout the entirety of the event, reminiscent of his domination of Cloudbreak early this year. He defeated Parkinson, Seabass and finally John John to win his seventh Pipe Masters.
After Mick secured the world title, Slater seemed to unleashed to an even greater degree. He discarded nines and punched through impossible sections which seemed even to surprise him. A close fought battle against John John in the final almost curtailed his road to Pipe victory, but he pushed through, as much through momentum as freakish skill.
“Last year, someone asked me what excited me in the end years of my career and I said I would like to surf a Final at Pipe against John John (Florence) so that’s pretty special today,” Slater said. “To win is even better. I want to surf against the best surfers at the best waves – that’s why I’m on tour. I was obviously emotional today, especially after Mick (Fanning) clinched the title in the Quarters. I don’t know what happens for me in 2014 but I think that has pissed me off just enough to come back.”
“Today was one of the most special days in my life,” Slater continued. “It’s a day I have dreamed about since I was a little kid – big, perfect, west-angled Pipeline and a showdown at the Pipe Masters. If I had stepped away from the sport five years ago, I wouldn’t have had today. I want more days like this so I’m definitely back next year.”
The third champion of the event was somewhat overshadowed by the world title race. With his second place finish, John John Florence secured the Triple Crown title, however losing to Slater by less than a point in the final was a bitter way to end his day. Pipe remains the ultimate, and it continues to elude Oahu's most talented surfing prodigy.
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS FINAL RESULTS:
1 - Kelly Slater (USA) 16.37
2 - John John Florence (HAW) 15.90
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: John John Florence (HAW) 18.30 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 5.00
SF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.63 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.84
BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.03 def. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 16.90
QF 2: John John Florence (HAW) 16.77 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.00
QF 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.80 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 7.80
QF 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.83 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 6.00
2013 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) Top 22:
1. Mick Fanning (AUS)
2. Kelly Slater (USA)
3. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
4. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
5. Taj Burrow (AUS)
6. Julian Wilson (AUS)
7. Kai Otton (AUS)
8. Nat Young (USA)
9. Josh Kerr (AUS)
10. John John Florence (HAW)
11. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
12. Michel Bourez (PYF)
13. Adriano de Souza (BRA)
14. Gabriel Medina (BRA)
15. Filipe Toledo (BRA)
16. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
17. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
18. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
19. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
20. Fred Patacchia (HAW)
21. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
22. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)